Unemployment for ages 16-17
The latest ONS data shows that the UK 16-17 year old unemployment levels have undergone tremendous dips by most broken down measures shown in fig.1. Since the last non-overlapping quarter (Nov-Jan), the unemployment level for 16-17 year olds has decreased by 5.5%: from 91,000 to 86,000. More significantly, the level of unemployment for this age bracket has dropped by 24.6% since last year, continuing the positive trend of the past 5 years shown in fig.2. Unemployment lasting between 6-12 months also showed a significant decrease since the Nov-Jan figures, with a 16.7% reduction (10,000 from 12,000).
Unemployment for ages 18-24
The unemployment figures for those aged 18-24 have also been falling but with what seems to be a softening momentum. Fig.3 shows really insignificant changes by most breakdowns over the past year and since the Nov-Jan figures, with unemployment for 18-24 year olds decreasing by only 3.7%, not reaching as low as other recorded figures in 2018. The 5 year trend shown in fig.4 better portrays the data trend, showing a significant reduction in the unemployment level from the same quarter in 2014 from 670,000 to 394,000 today. The gradient is not particularly steep from 2017 onwards, with further decreases in unemployment but at a significantly lower rate.
Interestingly, the level of unemployment lasting over 12 months has dropped by 12.2% since last year and 11% since the Nov-Jan (fig.3). Coupled with a look at the 5 year trend shown in fig.5, this seems to be another case of a great decrease that appears to be losing momentum. Even more incredible are the figures for unemployment lasting over 24 months, decreasing from 29,000 in Feb-April 2018 to 20,000 in Nov-Jan 2019, going on to decrease again to 14,000 in Feb-April 2019. When considering the past 5 years the progress is even more staggering, with figures in 2014 reaching 103,000
Main points for February to April 2019
- The UK employment rate was estimated at 76.1%, higher than a year earlier (75.6%) and the joint-highest on record.
- The UK unemployment rate was estimated at 3.8%; it has not been lower since October to December 1974.
- The UK economic inactivity rate was estimated at 20.8%, lower than a year earlier (21.0%) and close to a record low.
- Excluding bonuses, average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain were estimated to have increased by 3.4%, before adjusting for inflation, and by 1.5%, after adjusting for inflation, compared with a year earlier.
- Including bonuses, average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain were estimated to have increased by 3.1%, before adjusting for inflation, and by 1.2%, after adjusting for inflation, compared with a year earlier.
Matt Huges, Deputy Head of Labour Market ONS, had the following to say:
“Overall, the labour market continues to be strong, with employment still at a joint record rate. However, while the number of vacancies remains high, it has fallen back slightly from the historic highs seen at the turn of the year”
Young People not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET): May 2019
- There were 764,000 young people (aged 16 to 24 years) in the UK who were not in education, employment or training (NEET); this number decreased by 24,000 from October to December 2018 and was down 34,000 when compared with January to March 2018.
- The percentage of all young people in the UK who were NEET was 11.0%; the proportion was down 0.3 percentage points from October to December 2018 and down 0.3 percentage points from January to March 2018.
- Of all young people in the UK who were NEET, 39.2% were looking for, and available for, work and therefore classified as unemployed; the remainder were either not looking for work and/or not available for work and therefore classified as economically inactive.
What The Data Doesn’t Tell Us
In the UK labour market, unemployment and economic inactivity remain low, and employment continues to increase. However, the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) reported that in the first quarter of 2019, there was a decline in the balance of firms that wanted to recruit new full-time workers, there was a decrease in the balance of firms that wanted to recruit for permanent workers and there was a decline in the balance of firms that had training investment intentions.
The BCC also expects firms to raise their prices due to increases in costs. For instance, firms that have high proportions of low-paid workers face increasing pay expenditure in line with changes to the National Living Wage from the beginning of April 2019.